Hazardous chemicals management: inspection and safe storage
Safety Solutions Magazine – September 2020
Once there is a safe way to inspect hazardous liquids or materials, there is no need to change that right? With the advancement of mobile technology, there is now a safe way to inspect chemicals and manage them throughout their lifetime using paperless inspection methods.
Hazardous chemicals inspection seems like a blatantly obvious task that is beyond improvement. However, the matter remains that hazardous chemicals inspection can not only be made safer but can also be made more efficient. This doesn’t even just go for the inspection of the said products, but also their lifetime storage and management. It has long been established that chemicals inspection and hazardous materials handling requires strict guidelines and procedures. However often these stay out of date, and the procedures are left inefficient. With the advancement of mobile technology, there is now a safe way to inspect chemicals and manage them throughout their lifetime using paperless inspection methods.
Hazardous chemicals are substances, mixtures and articles that can pose a significant risk to health and safety if not managed correctly. For many organisations that operate with hazardous chemicals, such as those in the oil and gas, agriculture and manufacturing industries, inspection has not only been a paramount safety feature, but a question of how you can improve your processes. With the introduction of Intrinsically Safe (IS) mobile devices, employees were safe to carry mobile devices in Zones or Areas ranked by their hazard level (eg, Zone 1 and Zone 2). This was usually for methods of communication or to make recordings via integration with other devices and machinery.
Now such organisations are using their mobile devices to run safety inspections, regular site audits, safety walks or asset management. With the invention of paperless inspection applications running on the same IS mobile devices, employees can now also make recordings and follow checklists to perform checks that are needed across an organisation in such industries. Allowing all the safety inspection of the non-hazardous location to be the same as that of the hazardous location means the cross-examination of data becomes much easier and more efficient.
This is largely the precursor to wider implementation by organisations and sectors that have to handle hazardous materials and carry out chemicals inspection. By taking the same processes as highlighted earlier and bringing them into chemicals inspection, employees can reap the same benefits. Hazardous chemicals inspection can require IS mobile devices to be used, and with adequate protection, these devices represent a better alternative to the traditional paper checklist and the clipboard. Paper, for example, is easier to set on fire than a flame-protected mobile case; it’s that obvious and simple.
Chemicals inspection can use features such as recording with speech-to-text, useful if both hands are required to operate chemicals. Offline recording of data can be used in zones where internet or Wi-Fi signals are prevented due to safety restrictions or interference with equipment. The camera can be used to take pictures of storage facilities or scan the barcodes attached to chemicals to check proper documentation. All checklists can of course be designed to suit the inspection need whether that is standardised response or requiring photo evidence.
One of the major benefits of taking hazardous chemicals inspection paperless is the advantages for managers and other stakeholders. Not only are employees using systems which are faster and safer, but the data can be stored in real time for historical analysis and a simple audit trail. This also can highlight deficiencies and safety issues much quicker than paper methods and can stay up to date as new compliance measures can be integrated with the system much quicker without the needs to reprint paper checklists. Overall, managers get more options and knowledge than previously, which leads to better strategic decisions, safer facilities and nearly always higher safety understanding.